So in 2022 I am coming clean about where I gather these insights. I help people move from one home to another. I help them shed memories of all colors, purge unnecessary burdens, mental or physical, overcome fears about making big decisions, let go of perceived negative outcomes; basically re orient them into a new home, a new chapter, a fresh start. This is work that is deeply personal as you step in and mess with people’s nest!
But this has been an amazing opportunity to talk and share about this whole aging business and just how complex it is. When you are young you kind of assume “old people” are another species that think and act in uniform way, they are old for gosh sakes. But, young people; here’s a myth buster: None of us in reasonable health feel old. We feel experienced, wise, appreciative, determined, curious and liberated from the responsibilities of working and raising families. We can pursue our creativity, satisfy curiosities, add value to our community via hours of volunteer work. We have a unique value often unappreciated in the American culture.
And those of us who are still contributing often don’t read as ‘old’. A little gait change, some gray hair maybe, more comfortable shoes, ( did you know the padding of fat in your feet dwindles with age?) and some aches and pains, but if you are using your brain it is still a treasure trove of wisdom and value.
I have not spoken to one older client 55-100 who said “I feel old”, most report feeling 20-30 years younger than their chronalogical age. This is because, as the Bhagavd Gita says, the soul cannot be extinguished.
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.23
“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.”
While the vessel in which we dwell will be weathered, our invisible spirit remains unchanged. Who is reading this article right now? Are you the same spirit as when you were 2 years old, 10 years old? Did you suddenly one day wake up a different you? Unlikely.
So as I help people make this intimate transition I see all the joy and pitfalls of aging. And precisely because we don’t feel old, many wait to long to make changes in their environment to prepare for the lessening of their abilities. You likely will lose grip strength, feel unbalanced in a slippery tub, have trouble getting your shoes out from under the bed. Irritating but inevitable to some degree.
The other key observation is the deadline! After a certain age you are keenly aware that no matter how you do the math, you may have 10, 15, 20 summers left, 100 moonrises, things you are not going to fit in the remaining time afforded you. You become very selective about how you spend your time and with whom. The finish line looms!
Take every beautiful sunrise and cherish it, watch the moon cycles, feel the breeze, be generous with others. These are the precious days in the last third. Wake up and treasure them.